Marine mammals exploring the oceans pole to pole: a review of the MEOP Consortium
Polar oceans are poorly monitored despite the important role they play in
regulating Earth’s climate system. Marine mammals equipped with biologging devices
are now being used to fill the data gaps in these logistically difficult to sample regions.
Since 2002, instrumented animals have been generating exceptionally large data sets
of oceanographic CTD casts (>500,000 profiles), which are now freely available to
the scientific community through the MEOP data portal (http://meop.net). MEOP
(Marine Mammals Exploring the Oceans Pole to Pole) is a consortium of international
researchers dedicated to sharing animal-derived data and knowledge about the polar
oceans. Collectively, MEOP demonstrates the power and cost-effectiveness of using
marine mammals as data-collection platforms that can dramatically improve the ocean
observing system for biological and physical oceanographers. Here, we review the
MEOP program and database to bring it to the attention of the international community.